Can the planet be saved in Time? On the temporalities of socionature, the clock and the limits debate

V. Kolinjivadi*, Diana Vela Almeida, J. Martineau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The tendency of capitalist modernity to impose predictable, homogenous and linear representations of time for economic productivity has made it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to effectively respond to catastrophic environmental changes that are emergent, sudden, non-linear and unpredictable. A confusion between the actions and consequences of environmental change, and socialized representations of time and space within which humans must respond to such changes, not only paralyses possible solutions within fixed imaginaries but is also out of synch with the perpetual coming-into-being of socionature entanglements. The multiple temporalities coordinating interactions of humans and non-human natures are instead fetishized and made governable, commensurable and reproducible through the mechanistic intervals of the clock. We argue that the desire for transformative system change can be found in temporal desynchronizations to clock Time (capital T) and that political strategies to responding to socio-ecological crises reside in alter-temporalities (lower t time) of emergent socionature relations. Through an example of the desynchronized temporalities of tinawon rice production, we show how alter-temporalities emerge to reclaim cultural and food sovereignty from the otherwise flattening effects of modernity. We highlight the futuring potentials of such temporalities and their implication within ongoing debates between ecomodernists and those advocating limits to growth. Given that continuing to act in the Time of capital evidently fails to bring about system change and even aids in perpetuating our crises, we claim that responding in time (lower t) is itself a political act in raising the possibility for more convivial and life-affirming futures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-926
JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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